The three squadrons of P-51 Mustangs that made up the 352nd Fighter Group contained a remarkable collection of fearless young aviators who, amongst other things, provided more "Aces in a Day" than any other P-51 Group in any theatre. These were pilots such as George Preddy - the highest scoring P-51 Mustang Ace in the Eighth Air Force - who downed 6 Me109s in a single day, and Don Bryan with 5 victories in a day. No less than twenty nine of the USAAF's top aerial Aces in Europe were also from the 352nd FG, and twelve 352nd pilots scored aerial victories over the revolutionary German jet fighters. The 352nd also contained the 487th Fighter Squadron, led by Colonel J.C. Meyer - the seventh highest scoring Allied Ace of WWII - the only unit in the Eighth Air Force to have been awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation, in recognition for the squadron's action during Operation Bodenplatte, on New Year's Day 1945.
To commemorate the men who flew with the 352nd Fighter Group during World War II, Richard Taylor has created his magnificent new painting, Masters of the Sky
. Led by their Commanding Officer Major George Preddy, the P-51 Mustang pilots of the 328th Fighter Squadron engage in a bitter struggle with Luftwaffe fighters in the cold winter air high over eastern Germany. They have been escorting B-17 Fortresses attacking the heavily defended synthetic oil plant at Merseberg, 21 November 1944. As the B-17s turn safely towards home above them, Preddy skilfully manages to down one of the attacking Fw190s in the ensuing melee.
This outstanding new limited edition, together with the masterful companion drawing Preparing for Action
, further enhances Richard Taylor's growing reputation as one of the world's greatest aviation art talents. And with prints signed by some of the 352nd's most respected pilots and by a number of their vital ground crew, this is an edition for all collectors of aviation art to treasure and admire.Signatures:Limited EditionCaptain GEORGE MIDDLETON - Joining the 352nd Fighter Group in March 1944, George flew 85 combat sorties with them until the end of hostilities in May 1945. He flew P-51 Worra Bird, and acted as wingman to both George Preddy and Don Bryan on many occasions. George is credited with 2 aerial victories.
Staff Sergeant ART SNYDER (Companion print) - Serving with the 352nd FG from 1942 to 1945 Art Snyder was George Preddy's greatly respected crew chief who kept his P-51 Cripes A'Mighty flying to perfection, invaluable to Preddy as the highest scoring P-51 Ace in the Eighth Air Force. Art also doubled as the unit's barber, often decorating Preddy's Mustang with a small barber's pole to the right hand engine nacelle!
Collector's Edition: All of the above plus:
First Lieutenant WALTER G. "JACK" DIAMOND - "Jack" Diamond joined the 487th FS, 352nd FG in October 1944 and flew P-51 Mustang Twyla Sue with them until the end of the war. He was one of the few pilots who not only managed to get airborne during the Luftwaffe's 1945 New Year's Day onslaught of Operation Bodenplatte, but scored an aerial victory and damaged another as well.
Lieutenant Colonel DONALD S. BRYAN - Originally a P-40 instructor with the 79th FS, 20th FG, Don Bryan then transferred to the 328th FS, 352nd FG as a flight leader flying P-47s. Moving to Bodney, England in June, he flew with the group on its first combat mission in September, flying his P-47 Little One, named after his girlfriend Frances Norman. In April 1944, he transitioned to P-51s, Little One II and Little One III, and completed his first combat tour in May1944. He returned to the 328th FS in August, became an Ace two months later, and gained "Ace in a Day" status on 2 November when he downed five Fw190s in a single mission. Don flew 140 combat missions, never lost a wingman, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Congressional MOH.
Blue Nose Edition: All of the above plus:
Captain ROBERT H. "PUNCHY" POWELL - "Punchy" Powell joined the 328th FS of the 352nd Fighter Group in August 1943 and flew 83 combat missions with them in P-47s and P-51s until the end of his tour in December 1944. His P-51 was The West "by gawd" Virginian. He was credited with sharing in the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 3 damaged, and destroying 3.5 enemy aircraft on the ground, plus 2 probables while strafing enemy airfields.
Lieutenant Colonel RAYMOND R. MITCHELL - Ray Mitchell flew 69 combat missions with the 328th FS, 352nd FG from August 1944 until late April 1945; his P-51 was Carol. He flew as George Preddy's wingman many times and was in his flight on 25 December 1944 when Preddy was killed by friendly ground fire chasing after an enemy aircraft. Ray is credited with 1 aerial victory.
Lieutenant CHARLES M. PRICE - Assigned to the 486th Fighter Squadron at Bodney, Charles Price arrived in England in December 1944. He undertook his first combat mission in his P-51 Little Skunk on 6 February 1945, and went on complete a total of 27 before the end of hostilities. He is credited with 3 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.
Staff Sergeant JAMES BLEIDNER - James Bleidner served as an armourer in the 487th Fighter Squadron in England from July 1943 to August 1945.
Master Sergeant RALPH McLAIN - Ralph McLain was attached to the 352nd FG as a Radar Operator from their arrival in England until the end of the war. After the war he flew as aircrew on P-36 and B-52s as a Radar & Electronic Countermeasure specialist.
Staff Sergeant BILL STRAUB - Deploying to England in July 1943, Bill Straub was assigned to the 487th Fighter Squadron, where he served as an aircraft and engine mechanic until September 1945.
Corporal HOWARD POLIN - Howard deployed to England in April 1944, and was posted to Bodney as part of the 18th Weather Squadron, attached to the 352nd Fighter Group, where he served until the end of the war.
Blue Nose Artist's Proof and Remarque Edition: All of the above plus:
Captain DONALD ‘MAC’ McKIBBEN - One of the original pilots with Group, he flew 80 combat missions in P-47’s and the famous P-51 Miss Lace. He iscredited with 2 aerial victories and 1 probable.